The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1)

Who ya gonna call?

The Ghostbusters are at it again!
No, really, imagine junior Ghostbusters and you’ve got a good idea of this book.

 Summary: For more than half a century, the world has been plagued by supernatural hauntings. Numerous ghost hunting companies and investigations are established to exterminate these hauntings. Lockwood & Co. is one of them. Young agent Lucy Carlyle joins a small, peculiar agency run by the unusual Anthony Lockwood. After failing one miserable case, the agency seeks redeem itself by spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive. This is the first book in the series.

This was my first Jonathan Stroud novel, and I was highly impressed by the reading. You may be familiar with Stroud’s The Bartimaeus Sequence. Stroud continues to focus on fantasy with his new novel, but in a different way: focusing on the spectres and ghost-hunting. Fans of paranormal investigations will love this intermediate read!

Stroud is brilliant at crafting horrifying and creepy scenes, where the reader is able to imagine the ghosts as if they were in the very room with you. I gasped, I curled in a fetal position, and I read this entire book in less than 24 hours. Immediately, Stroud pulls you in with his story-telling, three-dimensional characters, well-crafted plot, and mystery.

From the beginning, the reader is pulled smack-dab into the action, feeling part of the investigation itself. When the investigation goes sour, the story begins to tell itself from the beginning. The organization of the book is a bit strange. After the action, the reader starts at Lucy’s beginning and how she became involved with Lockwood & Co., which is interesting. The author made a good choice to begin with the igniting incident rather than focus on backstory. It certainly drew me in, so while it was strange, it worked well.

The action doesn’t stop after the first case. The readers follow Lockwood & Co. as they attempt to solve the supernatural mysteries of the hauntings. Things become stranger and stranger, and are certainly not as they should be. Stroud links all the lemonade-308970_640pieces of the puzzle together in one astounding conclusion. This story is a definite read for readers who enjoy a good thrill, chill, and scare!

I honestly have no qualms with the story-telling or content itself, so with that, I award this book a perfect lemonade: 5 out of 5 lemons!

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Olivia

Score: lemon_1small lemon_2small lemon_3small lemon_4small lemon_5small of 5 lemons

The best stories are the ones a reader can pick up and enjoy again and again. That is how I feel with Olivia. My version of Olivia contained a read-aloud CD, so I read the story for the first time with the audio from Dame Edna, who is quite the character. The music of the audio was perfect for the reading experience. It was slow at times, but expertly captured the fanciful tone of the story.

Summary: Young Olivia is good at so many things, such as wearing people out, like her brother named Ian, mom and dad, dog named Perry, and cat named Edwin. She is a fan of many activities like dress-up, going to the beach, and imagining life as a ballerina. Olivia has so many adventures every day.

As a pen-and-ink story, Olivia was whimsical, humorous, and clever. The author used minimalist colors and gray tones, but purposefully used the color red to draw attention to specific pieces and details within illustrations. The color red was used to illustrate the joy and energy of the character, who was inspired by Falconer’s niece. The illustrations paired well with its words, and I enjoyed different styles used in illustrating, such as with the portraits from the museum (Autumn Rhythm #30 and Ballet Rehearsal), Olivia’s drawings and paintings, and gradients.

Examining the simple story, the picture book captures the energy and exuberance of a young child through all the various activities, from sand castle-building to portrait-viewing experience. A young child can find a friend or his/her self in the little piglet. The text is brief, but interacts well with the illustrations. Falconer masterfully utilizes the composition of a page while maintaining the focus on Olivia.

lemonade-308970_640Overall, the artistic style is appropriate, creative, and works well with subject. The format, the typography is a bit small and may be used with older elementary readers. The layout is purposeful and cleverly arranged. The text and images complement each other, and as a reader, I was impacted by this story, as this was a story I shared with family and friends, something I wanted to pass on as a treasure. This book is clearly deserving of its Caldecott honor! A story like this is timeless for children (ages 3-7). 5 out of 5 lemons! Which means–it’s the perfect glass of lemonade!

Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists

Score: lemon_1small lemon_2small lemon_3small lemon_4small lemon_5small out of 5

61I9UGXa2PL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Seventeen classic fairy tales are envisioned by a host of talented artists in this comic book compilation. All of the tales are illustrated utilizing unique techniques aligned with the exceptional artist’s style. Many of these artists have been nominated and/or received literary and art awards for their work. Some tales are adapted and retold with clever and fun division from the original recordings. Most of the original content is maintained in this child-friendly retelling. Even gruesome bits of the stories are expressed appropriately to maintain a suitable tone for young readers. Honestly, I appreciate the adaptations, due to some questionable, dark, and wicked elements of the originals that were first intended for adults.

20141230_105414Tales and Artists:

When a book compiles a series of comics from outstanding artists, it can only be a treat! The variation between comics delights readers with its stunning arrangements, colors, dialogue, and sometimes wordless narrations. To highlight some names, Brett Helquist, illustrator for many books like A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, creates a beautiful rendition of Rumpelstiltskin with its realistic characters, clear composition, and straightforward dialogue. (Though, I would love to insert a strong comment on the treatment of women in fairy tales.) Raina Telgemeier, author of the three graphic novels Smile, Drama, and Sisters, designs an amusing telling of Rapunzel with the heroine saving the prince and escaping from her tower prison. I very much enjoyed the work of Luke Pearson, cartoonist of the all-ages Hilda comic serieswho illustrates The Boy Who Drew Cats comic from the Japanese tale as told by Lafcadio Hearn. I had never heard this tale before and adored the humor, artistic style, panel arrangement, and surprise ending. Another favorite of mine is The Prince and the Tortoise, adapted from the 1001 Nights tale as told by Jean-Charles Mardrus, and illustated by Ramona Fradon, script by Chris Duffy, colors by James Campbell, and letters by Jack Morelli. This superstar collaboration envisioned and organized a humorous and complete story of three sons who marry due to the fate and a young son and tortoise who teach an important lesson about the nature of beauty and judging by appearances. At the end of the book, a bit of information and background is given about the contributors. I would have liked to know more about their artistic style and choices in creating the comics for the book.

The tales in this compilation are a blend of well-known tales from Brothers Grimm, recognizable stories, non-European tales, and male and female protagonists. The original tales may or may not be known to children, who may not be able to note deviations in these adaptions. This is a wonderful introduction to fairy tales through an accessible media form, which will be appreciated by children and intermediate readers. The comic form allows children to discover a story by deciphering the words and images while familiarizing themselves with elements of the traditional fairy tales.

In addition, I highly appreciate the editor’s note from Chris Duffy at the end of the book, which explains the selection of tales and includes a minor bibliography. I will link the electronic resources on this blog post:

  • gutenberg.org
    Project Gutenberg offers an extensive online collection of copyright-free works, including some fairy tale books. Try searching for the phrase “fairy tale” and the country or region of origin.
  • surlalunefairytales.com
    SurLaLune Fairytales is an online fairy tale resources, offering many of the classics.
  • pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html
    Curated by D. L. Ashliman, the Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts compile folklore and fairy tales from all of the world.

lemonade-308970_640Because of the perfect score, this book earns a big cup of LEMONADE! This is a successful comic compilation from brilliant artists powerfully capturing the elements of the original tales and transforming them into an accessible book for children and intermediate readers. I recommend this book for your home or library book shelves.